The 3 Best At-Home Espresso Machines

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At-home espresso machines give you the tools to make barista-quality coffee drinks without a trip to the café. But let’s face it, an espresso machine is an investment, and there’s the inevitable learning curve to pulling the perfect shot. Fortunately, the best at-home espresso machines don’t require a lot of practice to operate, and, if you can live without some premium features, won’t break the bank. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which of the best at-home espresso machines is right for you.

An easy way to find a more affordable at-home espresso machine? Opt for one without a built-in grinder. By doing a bit of the work yourself — including grinding your own beans, dosing, and tamping the grounds — you’ll save money and get more of a hands-on experience. If you’re looking for more convenience, simply use pre-ground coffee, or go for a machine that accepts pre-dosed pods.

Machines with simple dials and displays will take the guesswork out of making consistent espresso. For the most versatility, look for an espresso machine that allows you to brew one or two shots, and guides you in making milk-based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes. Depending on which types of drinks you enjoy, you may prefer a machine with an external frothing wand or a built-in milk tank.

If you want a foolproof way to make your favorite barista creations in your own kitchen, the best at-home espresso machines below offer the perfect blend of technology and convenience.

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1. The Overall Best At-Home Espresso Maker: Breville Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine

The overall best at-home espresso machine from Breville has an intuitive user interface with just a few buttons to control the brew volume and steam wand. Fewer buttons mean less room for error, and the Breville’s precise temperature and pressure settings deliver consistent results. The included Razor dose trimming tool ensures that you use the correct volume of coffee for one or two shots of perfectly extracted espresso.

The Breville’s two-stage brewing process first blooms coffee grounds at a low pressure before building to 15 bars of pressure, which many coffee fanatics argue makes superior coffee compared to the industry standard nine bars. The ergonomic steaming wand can steam and froth milk for milk-based drinks, and produces super-fine microfoam if you want to try your hand at making latte art. The wand also doubles as a hot water dispenser for making Americanos or hot tea. At almost 19 pounds, it is the heaviest model featured here, which can make it a challenge to move. But the Breville does boast a large water tank so you can go longer between refills.

According to one reviewer: "I’m a newbie when it comes to making cappuccinos and lattes, but this Breville machine is easy to use and looks great. I make frothy espresso concoctions several times a week now because I love my Duo Temp Pro and I improve my home barista skills each time I use it"

2. The Most Affordable: Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

If milk-based coffee drinks like cappuccinos or au laits are your go-tos rather than espresso shots, this espresso machine from Mr. Coffee is a good choice for you. It’s unusual to find an espresso machine for under $200 that doesn’t strictly brew pods, but the Mr. Coffee has automatic and manual settings to make a range of coffee volumes and styles. A built-in milk tank eliminates the need for an external vessel or perfect wand positioning, and simplifies the process of steaming and foaming milk. The texture of the foam can be adjusted easily by turning the froth control knob. Between uses, the milk tank can be stored in the refrigerator for freshness. It also comes with an auto-cleaning feature, and a generous 54-ounce water tank that lasts for days of drink-making.

According to one reviewer: "We wanted a good espresso machine that would do everything for you but without spending hundreds of dollars. This machine is exactly what we were looking for. The milk [feature] works perfectly, and the coffee taste is great! What's most importantly, it has auto clean features that make our live easier.We are now starting to play around with it and you can customize all the setting to create the one coffee you are really craving."

3. The Most Versatile: Gaggia Carezza De Luxe Espresso Machine

Don’t be fooled by the somewhat traditional styling of the Gaggia Carezza De Luxe; this machine isn’t lacking in technology or features. The analog temperature dial will let you know the status of the machine as it warms up, but the rest of the control panel is fully automated. The Gaggia offers the most brewing versatility of the models featured here, as it has the ability to brew freshly ground and store-bought coffee, but also accepts pre-portioned ESE pods for days when you’re really short on time. The auto-frothing wand can steam and foam milk, and has a removable attachment if you want to create fine microfoam. Unlike many other espresso machines, the 47-ounce water tank is positioned on the front of the Gaggia for easy access and refilling. Plus, the top of the Gaggia has a heated metallic plate to keep cups warm for serving.

According to one reviewer: "Use this machine almost everyday. Makes a great cup of espresso. I have used 5 different coffees so far and not one has been less than great. Frothing milk is fast. The machine heats up quickly. "

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